4 Things to Do When You Don’t Feel Close to God

Dive Into His Word

There is nothing like getting into the Word of God to get the Word of God into you. There is real power in God’s Word (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18). God’s promise about His Word is that “shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,” and “it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”(Isaiah 55:11). Don’t feel close to God? Get into His Word, for there you’ll find Him.

Cling to His Promises

When you feel you’re far from God, ask yourself this question: Who went where? It isn’t that God is far. We may feel that He is, but the truth is that human feelings are very unreliable and one of the shallowest of all human emotions. Our feelings can betray, but God’s promises never will. God promises “if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b).

Feelings verses Truth

I touched on this earlier, but our feelings and God’s truth are not even close, as God’s Word is always true but our feelings can be true or false. If we say “I feel” or “it feels like,” we are neglecting what God’s Word says. God’s truth doesn’t depend on human feelings but on His unchangeable nature, as He Himself said, “I the Lord do not change”(Malachi 3:6a).

Confess your Sins

When we come clean with God, we are restored to fellowship with Him. Our relationship won’t be severed, but our fellowship can be harmed when we fail to keep short accounts with God. In other words, when you sin, confess it immediately, tell God that are sorry for it, and move on. To keep sin unconfessed is only going to make you feel further and further away from Him. Humble yourself, confess your sins and repent of them, and then trust God, Who promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Conclusion

If you feel you’re not close to God, remember that God hasn’t changed and hasn’t moved. It is we who have moved away from God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). To me it’s comforting to know that God doesn’t change with the times. His mercies are new everyday (Lamentations 3:23), no matter what you feel like.

Are there generational curses in the Bible? Do they affect believers and even nonbelievers today? 

A Generational Curse

Many quote one or two Bible verses to affirm there were generational curses during ancient times. Some believe they still exist today. One verse they often quote is Exodus 34:6-7, which says, “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’” They also quote Lamentations 5:7, which says, “Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities.” But we must ask these questions: Do these verses mean a family is cursed for generations? Are these families helpless victims of their fathers’ and grandfathers’ sins?

Context Is King

It is easy to take one or two Bible verses and use them to build a doctrinal belief, including that there are generational curses in families even today. But we should first look at the context of those verses. Even better, we should look at the entire chapter, if not the book itself. If we take any text out of context, it might create a pretext and a false one at that. We must be careful when we or someone else quotes a Bible verse. Anyone could pull a verse out of the Bible like “and Judas went and hanged himself.” That’s no way to build a belief system. Otherwise, the next verse could be, “You go and do likewise!” Do you see my point? In Exodus 34 where God speaks to Moses, God is angry at the stiff-necked, rebellious nation of Israel. He isn’t speaking to anyone else in referring to this curse. The Bible never calls it a generational curse, and this is never mentioned in the New Testament. The context of these verses is that God wanted to start over with Moses and destroy the entire nation of Israel. But Moses interceded for Israel, foreshadowing the type of Jesus’ heavenly ministry today as our Intercessor or Mediator. Here is the point: God was speaking to a nation that was continually disobeying Him and grumbling about everything. So God told Moses that He would visit the sins of the fathers until the fourth generation. But what exactly was this? Was it a curse? The Bible never calls it that. However, if any family disobeys God and grumbles about everything that God’s doing or not doing, then that family truly is cursed, at least until they repent of this discontentment and disobedience. God never promises to bless such a family. If that family continues to live in the same sinful, dysfunctional manner, then that family will feel like they’re cursed.

AN EXCEPTION FOR CONSIDERATION

Here is a point to consider. Traditionally, especially in African countries and eastern part of the glob where by it’s believed that children are born into certain covenants. Authogh, some of such situations may call for deliverance, the covenants terminate the day you give your life to Christ. Note that this is never a course but the battle of the devil, the enemy of God and of his people. Read Revelation 12:1-17

Jesus Took the Curse

Is this a generational curse, or is it more the idea that dysfunctional families produce dysfunctional children who will do just as much sinning as their fathers did (if not worse) because it was a learned pattern of behavior for them? Children often do what they see. They will do what you do more than what you tell them because your actions are drowning out your words. Children can see through hypocrisy fairly easy. If they hear their parents say “Don’t do this” but see their parents do it, they’ll see it as their parents approval of it and also that lying and being a hypocrite are part of “normal” family. That will bring curses in and of itself. It’s more of a byproduct than a curse but is a curse nonetheless. Even if there is a so-called generational curse, Jesus is the cure for that curse. The Apostle Paul wrote that “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them’” (Galatians 3:10). This means we’re all cursed because none of us can ever keep the Law perfectly or do enough good works to save ourselves. Thankfully, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). It is true that “the LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18). In that sense we’re all a bit cursed because of our sinful nature. It’s good to acknowledge that, but then we must acknowledge we have trusted in Christ and profess Him to others so that they might have the curse of death lifted, too. Then they might receive eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Let’s be clear about this. The Bible says, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20). Yes, there is something like a generational curse, but it’s an effect of a family that is not walking with God and walking in their own flesh. Fleshly living produces carnal results, which eventually leads to eternal death. I hope you’re not worried that you’re locked into a generational curse and can’t get out of it. That’s not true because Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,”(John 8:36). This means the condemnation has been lifted (Romans 8:1) and you now have peace with God (Romans 5:1) through Jesus Christ, Who became a curse for us so that we might have our curse lifted.

Short Christian prayers that we need to stop saying

My Will Be Done

God’s will is always done, even if bad things are happening to us (Rom. 8:28) so we should pray for His will and not our will to be done. God’s will cannot be altered or changed by human activity but God can even use the evil actions by men for His good (Gen. 50:20). So even in man’s scheming and wickedness, the will of God is never hindered and is always done. In other words, He can use evil to accomplish His will even though He is not the source of that evil. If you look at the cross, you see the greatest travesty of justice ever, yet God used that great evil to redeem a people for Himself by means of the Redeemer. We can pray for our will, but God’s will is going to be done anyway. More importantly, we should pray for God’s will to be done in our life over our own will and that means we will be doing what is the will of God. Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-5). Pray for God’s will to be done and then do it to the best of your knowledge.

Forgiveness for the Same Sin

First John 1:9 has brought a lot of comfort to a lot of people, as it says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It doesn’t say He forgives us if we keep asking for forgiveness for one particular sin. Even if we commit a terrible sin, our sin is never greater than our Savior. We don’t have to keep asking for forgiveness for the same sin. Imagine you’re a parent and your child comes to you and apologizes for breaking the lamp. The next day he or she apologizes for the very same thing, day after day. The parent would finally say, “Hey, that’s been forgiven. You don’t need to keep bringing it up. Don’t you trust that I’ve forgiven you?” Do you see the connection between the earthly father and our heavenly Father in that story?

Praying for God’s Wrath

What I mean by praying for God’s wrath is that we should not be praying for harm to come to our enemies. Remember the so-called Sons of Thunder who asked to have fire come down out of heaven and consume the Samaritan village that had just rejected Jesus and His message (Luke 9:54). At this remark, Jesus “turned and rebuked them” (Luke 9:57) and told them that’s not the way we react. You and I are told to “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Rom. 12:14), not call fire down from heaven! “Repay no one evil for evil” (Rom. 12:17), “but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). On the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Rom. 12:20). In other words, let his or her conscience bring them to repentance, but leave justice up to God.

The Rock and the Hammer

Sometimes when we pray for people who are lost, we pray for their problems to be solved. They might be going through financial problems, relationship difficulties, or health issues. Instead of praying that they would have all their problems solved, why not pray for God to use these trials to draw them unto Himself. When we try to solve our lost friends and family members’ problems, we might be getting between the rock (the crisis) and the hammer (God’s hand). I am not saying don’t help people, but pray these problems bring them to God so that they might have everlasting life in Jesus Christ.

Bonus Content

Stop the Persecution

I can’t remember hearing missionaries request prayers for their persecution to stop. They know that it’s to be expected. The Apostle Peter said don’t “be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1st Pet 4:12-13). The truth is, every time the early church was persecuted, it grew (Acts 8:1-4). Persecution always spreads the church, not stop it, so don’t pray for persecution to stop, but for it to glorify God and spread His church. Of course we should pray for their safety and other persecuted Christians around the world, but persecution should be expected, and God can use evil for good (Gen 50:20).

Stop this Person

Some people just naturally rub the fur the wrong way, and I do too I’m sure, but some people have real enemies in their life and that person constantly bullies them, makes fun of them, and might even sabotage their work. You can understand why it’s tempting for us to pray for God to take them out of our life. They might be our boss, our neighbor, or even a family member, and they sometimes badger people for their faith or the way they dress, or the car the drive, or the job they have. Instead of praying for God to take them away, pray for God to use this person’s evil for good, as in the case of Joseph’s brothers mistreating him (Gen 50:20). Peter tried to stop Christ from going to the cross; aren’t you glad he failed? Woodrow Kroll said “Cherish your enemies; they might be a blessing in disguise.”

Praying and Doing

If someone is looking for a job and they sit by the telephone and pray for God to make it ring, that’s probably not going to work. Instead, we ought to pray for our need before God, and then get up and start moving and see what we ourselves can do. God often works through other people, so ask for help, speak up, and ask others to pray for you. When we’ve done all we can, that’s when God can do all He can. It’s good to pray when we’re in need, but it likely takes action on our part too, and if we do our part, only then might God do His. The saying, “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible, but the principle is there.

Conclusion

It is so easy to pray “Christianese” and not in plain language that is easy to understand. Some of the best prayers I’ve ever heard were from children because they prayed from the heart and weren’t concerned with what others thought of their words. They were honest, sincere, and genuine, and God will hear and answer those types of faith-based prayers

7 Signs Of A Spiritual Attack

Feelings of Worthlessness

Some the most frequent causes of spiritual attacks come when you have overcome a major sin, you have had a time of great success, and you are consistently sharing the gospel.  The Enemy hates all of these things.  That’s when you might experience feelings of worthlessness.  That you are unworthy to be saved, you might question your salvation, you might think of yourself as a hypocrite and since you are such a sinner the Devil or his demons might influence you to think “Who do you think you are?  How can you share the gospel with someone when you’re such a wretch?  I love this saying; “When the Devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future (Rev 20:10).

Times of Prayerlessness

Again, when we feel overly guilty with sin, we must learn to confess it immediately.  Don’t let unconfessed sin linger because the longer you put off prayer, the harder it is to do.  When we experience times of prayerlessness, we are taking away our greatest source of power and that is God.  It seems that when I try to pray the phone rings, someone knocks at the door, the washing machine decides to do its dance and all kinds of things come into my mind which are anything but godly.  That’s likely the Devil.  The only time that Satan really fears is when we are praying in Jesus’ name and pleading the blood of Christ.  Prayer is not easy…it’s hard work.  Yes, for some it seems to come easy, but when you are under spiritual attack, that is the last thing that you feel like doing. We only make progress in our spiritual life when we are moving forward on our knees. Sometimes it’s really hard to do so start of by giving thanks to God and reading over Scriptures of His awesome attributes.  That may discourage the Enemy from trying to interfere with your prayers and stop Him from putting thoughts into your mind.

Feelings of Condemnation

This is close to the first sign of feeling worthless but this one is different.  We might feel that we are not a Christian because we see how far we fall short of God’s holiness.  This is where we need to be in the Word of God and start by reading Romans 8.  This chapter is so encouraging and may be my favorite chapter in the entire Bible. Romans 8:37-39 says “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now does that sound like a condemned man writing?  No. Don’t believe your feelings….believe what God’s Word says.

Famine of the Word

This might be the hardest thing to do when you are under spiritual attack but it is the best possible thing you can do along with prayer because we know that there is real, living, active power in the Word of God, so why not unleash it?  At the very time that you feel that you least want to read the Bible, that is the exact time that you need it the most.  Tap the power of God. Stay in the Word.  Make a daily Bible reading plan and stick to it. It’s a great weapon to use in spiritual warfare.

Bonus Content

Family Conflict

The enemy has been seeking to destroy the nuclear family, which is a family with a father, mother, and child, since the Garden of Eden. Today, that type of family has become the minority, and Satan must love it. To destroy the family is to chip away at society, bringing it ever closer to destruction. That may be why the very first commandment given for mankind in relation to mankind is the command to honor your father and mother. That command comes with a promise of living longer on the earth (Ex 20:12). That’s not a guarantee, but if God says it will go better for you by honoring your parents, there’s no doubt it will bring blessings or curses, depending upon how the parents are treated. When family conflict comes, pray and put on the armor of God (Eph 6), and don’t let the Devil incite you to anger and not honor your parents.

Overwhelmed by Life

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Did being tired and hungry add to the situation? For me, that’s when I can react in the worst way and probably give room for the Devil. I know it can hinder our prayer life if we feel like giving up. When you’ve lost the will to go on, it’s very difficult to pray, but that’s the very time you need it the most, because you might be under spiritual attack. The Enemy wants us to give up, and he wants to rob our joy, but don’t let him. Go to Jesus and unload every burden and every weight and take His yoke upon you. The Christian faith is not a one-horse act. We need Christ and His strength (Phil 4:13). Do you feel despair? Do you feel like giving up? Fall on your knees and pray, because it could be the Enemy.

Back to the Old Life

A very serious sign of spiritual attack is when you’ve just given up on the Christian faith and fallen back into your old lifestyle and habits. You start seeing your old friends you used to party with. You start enjoying the pleasures of sin, and in the meantime, Satan is laughing his lungs out. Even if you’re still attending church, falling back into these old ways is asking for trouble, because the Devil’s got you just where he wants you.

Conclusion

Don’t let Satan the liar trick you and tell you, you are worthless, or condemned. Don’t let life lead you to despair and giving up. Don’t stop praying. And don’t fall back into the life you came out of. God will discipline every child He loves. God is for you and not against you and won’t forsake you, even if you do for a time. Brothers and sisters, the battle is real and the enemy’s invisible. It’s time to armor up (Eh 6).

5 Bible Quotes to Remind Us God Is in Control

Daniel 2:21 “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”

I know that Solomon understood God’s omnipotence (all-powerful) because he wrote that God “looses the bonds of kings and binds a waistcloth on their hips” (Job 12:18), and “he pours contempt on princes and loosens the belt of the strong” (Job 12:21) at His discretion and as He pleases. He is always and forever in control.

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Solomon asks the rhetorical question, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it” (Lam 3:37), with the obvious answer being only God can speak a thing and make it come to pass. Even a word isn’t spoken that the Lord hasn’t known before, as the psalmist explains, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:4).

Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”

There is no one or nothing that could ever compare to God. He declares what the end will be even before it’s begun! Wow! Whatever man plans, God will accomplish His will and His purpose, for His “counsel shall stand,” and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

In biblical times, kings held vast power with huge kingdoms and controlled enormous armies. But to God, the king’s heart is nothing more than “a stream of water” in His mighty hands. So guess who’s really in charge (hint: it’s not the king!)? God will turn any king’s (or powerful ruler’s) heart effortless and to whatever direction He wills and for His purposes.

John 10:28-29 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

This might seem like a strange choice for a Bible quote that reminds us that God is always in charge, but Jesus is reassuring His listeners (and readers today) that He controls their eternal security, just as if we were in the palm of His hand. Not only that, we are secure in the Father’s hand, too. God’s never going to let us slip from His grace grip (John 6:37, 39).

Conclusion

Has it ever occurred to you that nothing’s ever occurred to God? He’s never had to learn anything because He knows everything. He is in total control. We might like to think we are ruled by human governments, but where man rules, God overrules because “the Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19), and “God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). The greatest reminder that God’s in control takes us from today all the way to “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

Reasons God may Remove Someone From Your Life. 

Took them for Granted

This one may be the most hurtful. When I was in high school, I dated a beautiful girl and took her for granted. I would just show up on Friday nights to take her out on a date with my friends. She never quite knew what time I’d show up. I just knew she’d be there…until one Friday night. I came to her home and realized that her family had moved. I found a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. I had waited a whole week to call her…but it was one day too many. God may have removed her from my life because I took her for granted. I didn’t deserve her. God knew I wasn’t good for her then, still living as a unsaved young man.

To Be With Him

Years ago, a young pastor and his wife tragically lost their young child by a freak accident at home. I don’t think anyone of us can understand what that must feel like. There may be some who have been through such a tragic loss, but when a young child dies, it’s even harder to accept because they had their whole life in front of them. What about all of the missed Christmas’, birthday parties, bubble baths, and high school proms? This might be the most difficult thing for anyone to accept, so why does God remove someone so precious from our lives? I don’t know. Maybe it’s so that they can be with Him…and we too will be with Him…and them, someday! That’s the hope believers have.

Too Toxic

When God removes someone from our lives, maybe it’s because He knows that they’re toxic for us. God knows who will be a bad influence and knows what trouble this might bring, so God, in His wisdom, removes someone that we might not even realize is dragging us down…maybe into sinful practices. If you knew something was wrong with your car, you’d probably take it into a mechanic and have them look it over, so God sometimes looks over our situation and knows that we are sometimes better off without someone, so God simply removes them from our life. Remember in the first paragraph? God removed me from my old girlfriend’s life because I was toxic to her and also took her for granted.

Someone Else

God may remove someone from your life in order to bring someone else in. That’s right! Sometimes, people can dominate a relationship. They might be people who have a lot of needs, and a few people I have counseled have told me that they are being used, and they finally had enough. They couldn’t continue the relationship because it was always a one-way street, so when that person leaves, pray to God for someone that will help you grow as a person and in the faith.

Bonus Content

Addition by Subtraction

Not long ago, one of our church members left our congregation. This person had been criticizing almost everyone you could think of. I got calls from him at various times about “such and such is doing this or that,” but I’d usually find out later he was assuming the wrong thing, and assuming things can be very thin ice to walk on. If we guess wrong, then we’ve believed the worst in that person, so I believe God removes certain members who are grumbling because it threatens to infect the whole church, so occasionally, the church adds members by subtraction. When the “constant grumbler” finally left, a couple of new people showed up, and older members starting coming back; that’s addition by subtraction. I truly believe God removed that person in the best interests of the church.

Bad Company Corrupts

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1st Cor 15:33). Rather than do those things we used to do in running with the world, we are commanded to “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph 5:11). If we “expose them” they are not going to like that, and they will leave you as fast as they can, but that’s okay, so “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness” (2nd Cor 6:14)? The answer is nothing, so if a person professing faith in Christ is living in sin, expose them. That may cause them to be removed from your life, which is certainly for your own good.

He Knows the Future

God can see down the corridors of time, but more accurately, God has already been to the end and the beginning ,and knows every single thing that’s going to happen in your life, so when we lose a friend or even a spouse from our life, we have to trust the sovereignty of God. God will take every single second of our lives and use it for good, even if it’s really, really bad at the time (Rom 8:28). For example, God would know that in about 4 years, you’ll get your degree, but if your best friend is still around for those 4 years, they might try to talk you out of finishing college and say it’s just a big waste of time and money….and you might believe them. Losing a special friend can really crush us, but grapes that are never crushed can never make the wine; wheat that’s not ground can never make the bread. God knows that our pain will be our ultimate gain. I trust Him…more than a million best friends.

Conclusion

The Bible tells us that there is “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov 17:17), and “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” or sister (Prov 18:24b). Do you have that kind of friend? If not, find one, and to find a friend, just be a friend, because friends become more valuable with every passing day.

4 Ways God Can Use You Today

Encourage Someone Today

I recently read that smiling is as contagious as yawning. So is encouraging someone. Paul wrote that we should “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11) and not tear each other down. They say it takes ten positive words to build someone up who’s been discouraged by one bad word. Why not build someone up today? Up is where heaven is anyway, and that’s where we’re headed, right?

Give to Someone Today

Have you given someone something today? You can, if it’s still early. It doesn’t have to be money. You can give of yourself. You can hold the door open for someone. You can pick something up that they drop. You can smile at them, shake their hand, or give them a hug. Give yourself away. The interesting thing is the more of yourself that you give away, the more you actually receive in blessings. Paul reminds us to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35)

Visit Someone Today

I had a friend come into town recently, whom I hadn’t seen for a long time. It was refreshing to catch up on things, but you can also pick up the phone and call someone today, email someone, send an unexpected “thinking of you” card. Whatever you do, try to go out of your way and visit or talk to someone today that you normally don’t talk to or see. Make it a special, no-occasion thing. Paul tells us to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).

Thank Someone Today

I believe that one of the greatest sins a Christian can commit is the sin of omission. It is the failure to give thanks to God but also to others. On occasions, I just tell my wife “thank you for…” and then start listing the many things she does. Paul said, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3). I like to borrow Paul’s line and tell people I thank God for them–for being my wife, daughter, son, friend, etc. Even a thank-you note makes a great and lasting impression. It costs very little, but, oh, the benefits they and you reap are priceless.

Conclusion

Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Jacob was a deceiver, Moses had a speech impediment, Peter swore and denied Jesus three times, David was an adulterer and murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Rahab was a prostitute, Joseph was innocently thrown into prison, and, oh yeah, Lazarus was dead. Do you still think God can’t use you!? Nope. God can use you in these four and many other ways today to glorify Him. Everyone can be used by God, no matter who they are. If you are reading this, God can use you.

Attributes To Identify A Truly Evil Person

Blasphemy of God’s Holy Name

No one who is saved characteristically continues to use God’s name as a swear word. I don’t mean when someone loses their temper and does it on an occasion when they’re extremely angry. I mean when someone uses “damn” as God’s last name and Jesus’ holy name is thrown around as if it’s just another word. In the first place, we all fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23), and not one of us is really good (Rom. 3:10-12). I mean someone who swears and curses all the time. Believers treat God’s name in a holy, reverential way and always with the deepest respect and fear. Not so with someone who is bent toward evil.

Money Is Their God

When nothing else matters but money and they will hurt anyone at any cost as long as it helps them financially, then that person has made money their god. They worship the dollar, and if someone gets in their way, they don’t care who gets hurt; they will get what they want no matter what. There are some that will use people instead of hard work in climbing the ladder of success. They use people as the rungs in a ladder, stepping on people in order to climb over them in trying to reach the top.

Taking Advantage of Widows and Orphans

I have experienced a few people who’ve taken advantage of their elderly parents or widowed parent to get what they want. I remember doing a funeral one time, and when the family returned home afterwards, they discovered that some of the family’s relatives had pilfered through and taken many of the possessions of their deceased parents while their parent was being buried. Can you imagine how evil that is?! While we were burying their parents or relatives, they were at their home going through and taking as many valuable possessions as they could get. That is so despicable.

Someone Who Abuses Children

There are fewer things that are more intolerable than someone who physically or sexually abuses children. How evil can you get!? That is truly a mark of someone who is evil of heart. Who hurts defenseless children? How can someone even consider wrecking some child’s life and leaving behind psychological scars that will last a lifetime?

Conclusion

If you take these four attributes and reverse them as something that a believer never does, then you also have the attributes of a believer. They never blaspheme God’s name, they never use people to acquire money, they never take advantage of the elderly or orphans, and they certainly never abuse children. Those who do are headed for the swift and sure judgment of God, and unless they repent and trust in Christ, they face the wrath of God for all eternity (Rev. 20:12-15; Rev. 21:8).

4 Common Stumbling Blocks to a Stronger Faith

The Demon of Doubt

Doubt is the near opposite of faith because it undermines what we believe to be true without even seeing physical evidence. For example, I have never seen Jesus, but I know He exists and died to take my sins away. Jesus told Peter in Matthew 14:31b, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt.” This was right after Peter had actually walked on water. But where did his faith start to fail? It was when he “saw the wind” (Matt. 14:30), and doubt crept in because he took his eyes off Jesus. So if you start looking at your problems and they become bigger than Jesus or they take your eyes off Jesus at all, it could be a huge stumbling block to a stronger faith.

Substance Abuse

I battled a strong addiction to marijuana for many years, and it made me doubt my salvation many times, but God was patient with me. Over time, He helped change my heart’s desire to overcome this. For others, it is alcohol. They just can’t quit drinking, and time after time they fall back into it. They are not overcoming alcohol; it is overcoming them. We need help. Sometimes we just need to swallow our pride, acknowledge our substance abuse problem, and reach out and seek help. When we struggle with substance abuse, it can create a huge stumbling block to a stronger faith because we feel unworthy and unlikely to actually be saved.

Isolation

I just counseled a man the other day who said that he is so shy, he can’t be around many people. He feels unwelcome by others in the church, even though they are trying to show themselves friendly. He said, “It’s a pretty lonely path to walk.” He admits that it’s his perception and not reality, but for him, perception is reality. I told him about the giant sequoias that grow in California. The interesting fact is that these huge trees can grow to well over 300 feet, and many have lived for over 2000 years, but they have extremely shallow roots. In fact, if they stood alone, they’d collapse in a strong wind. But the fact is that the sequoias’ shallow roots intertwine with one another, and so do their branches. This is exactly how the church is designed because without the help of others to keep our roots firmly planted and with no support from others, the individual Christian would soon fall. Like sequoias, we grow tall when we stand together and support each other, but alone, we fall so easily. Therefore, isolation can be a huge stumbling block to a stronger faith.

Illness and Disease

I don’t know how many people in the last few years I’ve personally known who have been diagnosed with cancer; some have even died of it. Many people begin to question the goodness of God, and that is completely understandable. I can’t imagine how hard this must be. You’ve been hit by a fatal disease, battle chronic illness, or have been diagnosed with cancer, which can undermine our faith and create a huge stumbling block to a stronger faith. These are the times when believers can put things into an eternal perspective. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They could die but then be present with the Lord. I certainly have no answer as to the “why,” but I do know the Who, and He is sovereign over all things.

Conclusion

I hope that we don’t become a stumbling block for others by doing something that others consider sin but we think is not. Paul warned us to “take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9). People have enough trouble with their own stumbling blocks to a stronger faith without needing any help from us.

10 Ways You Might Be Blocking The Power Of The Holy Spirit

Here are ten ways you might be blocking the power of God’s Spirit in your life.

Grieving the Spirit

You can actually grieve the Holy Spirit by not confessing sin (Eph 4:30). Just as a person grieves over the loss of a loved one, the Spirit is said to be grieved when we sin (Eph 4:26-30). That will not only block the Spirit of God’s power, it will actually grieve the Third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. He is called “Holy,” because He is holy, and is God, but He also works to create holiness in us, but unconfessed sin blocks that growth.

Quenching the Spirit

The Apostle Paul says that it’s possible to quench the Spirit of God because that’s just what he told the church at Thessalonica: “Do not quench the Spirit”(1st Thess 5:19). When we quench the spirit, we’re trying to silence what God is trying to say to us or motivate us to do something by the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Sometimes we quench God’s Spirit without even knowing it.

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Ignoring the Spirit

This is what unbelievers do. They ignore their conscience and suppress the knowledge of God, and even though they really know that God exists, the push back that knowledge in their consciences. Paul writes, “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth”(Rom 1:18), and “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom 1:21). After a person ignores their conscience for so long, eventually God will just give them up to their own depravity.

Resisting the Spirit

When Stephen was on trial for his faith in Christ, he bluntly told the Jewish religious leaders, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51), and all you need to do is read about ancient Israel’s history to see that it’s true. They resisted God every step of the way, so God allowed them to wander in the wilderness for forty years until that generation was gone. God may put us in a “wilderness” for a time, until we stop resisting the Holy Spirit and His power.

Not Following the Spirit

When Paul wanted to go into Asia to preach the gospel, it was said that the Spirit blocked him from doing so (Acts 16:6). This didn’t mean Paul wasn’t following the Spirit, but the Spirit was trying to make Paul to go where He wanted him to go, and not where Paul wanted to go. The Holy Spirit always seeks to have us do the will of the Father, and so when we resist the Holy Spirit, we resist God Himself.

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Going through the Motions

Traditions are fine, but when these traditions can become just going through the motions. When we do things without much thought, we’re blocking the Spirit’s power in being spontaneous. When church services become “automated,” then the church might be blocking the Holy Spirit’s power in worship services. For example, if we are singing songs without comprehending their meaning, then we’re just going through the motions and just “checking things off our list.”

Doubt and Fear

Doubt and fear are the enemies of faith and trust. To have fear is to show a lack of faith and doubt can rob our joy. Both doubt and fear can suppress the work of the Spirit in us and strip us of our desire to serve Christ. Perfect love should cast our fear (1st John 4:18). A great way to dampen the doubt and face the fear is to be in the Word of God. That’s where the Spirit can help give us assurance and faith.

Harboring a Grudge

When we are holding a grudge against someone, it’s like a nagging thing in our mind that we quite can’t shake. The Spirit convicts us when we sin, but when we refuse to confess them, we can be grieved by God’s convicting Spirit. David said “my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3a), and it was “when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer”(Psalm 32:4). Unconfessed sin can put God’s heavy hand upon us just like holding a grudge can.

A Resistant Spirit

I would rather it be, “Have your own way with me Holy Spirit” than “This is what I’ll do next.” If we have any pride at all, God’s going to resist us (James 4:6), and since the Holy Spirit is also God, the Spirit can resist us if we get full of ourselves. God’s Spirit can do little in someone that is full of pride. Until a person comes before God and is emptied of self, He cannot fill them; until they admit they are broken, God cannot fix them by His Spirit.

Not Walking in the Spirit

The Apostle Paul admonished the church at Rome to walk in the Spirit, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit”(Rom 8:4) because “to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom 8:6).

Conclusion

We need all the help we can get from God’s Spirit in not grieving the Spirit, in not quenching the Spirit, in not ignoring the Spirit, in not resisting the Spirit, and in not following the Spirit and holding onto doubts, fear, being prideful and not walking with God, in the Spirit. Perhaps the greatest block of the power of God’s Spirit is pride. God cannot work with people that feel they have arrived in life. God resists the proud, but only gives His grace to the humble (James 4:6). When we block God’s Spirit, we also block His power working in us. That’s important enough reason to not grieve, quench, ignore, or resist the Spirit of God, but rather, to follow the Spirit